28-strong Munster squad jet into South Africa for two-game tour

Colm Kinsella, Rugby Correspondent, Thomond Park

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Colm Kinsella, Rugby Correspondent, Thomond Park

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ckinsella@limerickleader.ie

28-strong Munster squad jet into South Africa for two-game tour

Out-half JJ Hanrahan kicked 14 points in Munster's bonus point win over Dragons in the Guinness PRO14 at Thomond Park on Saturday

THE Munster Rugby squad and backroom team is due to arrive in South Africa later today, Monday, to begin a two-game tour.

Johann van Graan’s charges are set to face the Southern Kings in the second round of the Guinness PRO14 at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth on Saturday at 3pm.

Munster will then take on the Toyota Cheetahs at Toyota Stadium, Bloemfontein on Saturday, October 11 at 5.15pm, in the second fixture of their tour

Head coach Johann van Graan said: “When I was back in South Africa during the summer it was evident to me that South Africa have started to embrace the PRO14. 

“For both teams it was very important that they use the Currie Cup to prepare for the PRO14 and they have changed their season round.

“Last year they started the Currie Cup and PRO14 together, so the Cheetahs were split into two, now they are only one. They are the champions of South Africa.

“They have beaten everyone in South Africa. I watched that game on Friday night, they put 48 points on Glasgow, that’s pretty impressive and I think Ruan Pienaar has made a massive difference.

“He is their captain. Franco Smith is a very astute coach and he has stayed on for another few weeks up until after our game, so they will take the continuity from the Currie Cup into the PRO14.

“I think Robbie Kempson has done well in restructuring the Kings, so we are under no illusion as to what awaits us in the next two weeks, massive travel for us to get down to Port Elizabeth, Dublin-Doha-Johannesburg-Port Elizabeth and then a week later we’ve got to get up to altitude at Bloemfontein. The previous two encounters was very tough.

“We have planned for that and we are looking forward to it. It is quite a young squad that will go, We have one or two final decisions to make, look at guys who have bumps and bruises after the game and guys coming back from one or two niggles from pre-season, so this will be a tough tour.”

Van Graan explained that Munster have taken a squad of 28 players to South Africa. The squad is due to arrive in South Africa late this, Monday, afternoon. 

“We are only taking 28 players who we are sure can train on Tuesday. Because we travel such a long time, we will leave guys behind who are 50/50 and haven’t had the continuity of training with us. 

“The guys who are on tour are the guys who are available for selection next weekend and one or two guys we might leave behind may join us later on the tour, depending on their availability.”